You know me.
Whether I met you in passing, whether you heard about me on the news or from family.
You know me.
I know you too.
Whether I have seen you beside the bed, or in the room, or I have taken someone you knew and they told me about you.
I know you.
I know everyone.
And everyone knows me.
There are a lot of rumors surrounding me, a lot of thoughts.
You have a habit of fearing the unknown. I understand. The dark part of the street is scary when you’re walking on it. You avoid the deserted section of the mall. The empty hotel hallway can be scary, especially when it’s 2:19 a.m. and the lights at the end of the hallway are out.
You fear me. I understand.
I am the unknown. I am scarier than the deserted parking lot at night.
You shouldn’t worry when you meet me.
After all, I carry you out when you go.
I help you walk that path into the unknown. I guide you through that dark part of the street, into the deserted section of the mall and out of the empty hotel hallway.
Can you imagine if you had to walk it alone?
You don’t know me.
I know I said you do, but you don’t, yet.
You know of me.
So let me tell you about my day, and maybe we can become friends.
I met a lot of people today.
Please, stop crying. I don’t want you to cry.
I met a 67-year-old Chinese man at 6:01 this morning. He told me about his granddaughter and how she had finally been able to swim in his pool. I enjoyed listening to him. We walked and talked until we reached a little garden and he decided he would stop walking with me.
At 9:05 a.m. I met a little girl. She had blond hair that was tied behind her head with a purple bow. She told me about her favorite animals, and how amazing it was that elephants remember where they lose their loved ones and how dolphins can recognize themselves in the mirror. We rode bikes together down her street until we reached her house, and she went inside.
At 11:11 a.m., I was strolling along the highway. Coincidentally, at 11:12 a.m., I met a 17-year-old Native American boy. He had several lines on each wrist but instead of telling me about those he told me about how much he loved driving. He would speed on the back roads of his town – he described the feeling of freedom, the feeling of flying. We drove and talked about how he wanted to become a race car driver. We did this until we came to a racetrack, and I left him with the car to drive all he wanted.
I did not meet anyone else until 1:36 p.m. This was a girl with blue hair and matching eyes. She was 26 and she showed me how to use the quadratic formula. She really liked math, was actually planning to teach it at a local high school. We discussed mathematics and I escorted her to the local high school. She greeted a student and left.
I met an African man at 3:30 p.m. on the dot. He showed me pictures of his son, who had joined the Air Force. We talked about fighter pilots and whether or not a war would break out. I dropped him off at his son’s house, and father and son hugged. I left.
At 5:58 p.m. I met a teenager who told me she did not want to live at home anymore. This teenager had bruises on her face and arms, but she didn’t say anything about them. We talked about politics and human rights, and when we reached the beach, we parted ways.
When the clock showed 7:14 p.m., a little Filipino boy sat next to me on the train. He showed me his toy cars, and I carried him off the train when it stopped. We talked about the importance of car color – green was faster than yellow, he said, and when we found his mother I put him in her arms. He fell asleep right away.
At 9:43 p.m., I was in a hospital in northern Germany when I met two people who told me they were in love. They had handcuffed one set of wrists together, but I didn’t ask about that and they didn’t tell. They told me they were getting married, and I wished them luck. We discussed wedding cakes and flowers until they were carried away on stretchers, their hands still clasped together.
At 11:18 p.m. I picked up a crying baby off the street corner. The baby didn’t tell me anything, so instead I told it about elephants and dolphins and about the quadratic formula until the crying stopped. I carried the baby with me until I found a crying mother lying in a bed and a father with tear streaks down his face; I nestled the baby in her arms. She continued to cry, but the baby looked peaceful.
At 1:34 a.m. a 21-year-old paid for my drink in a bar, and we talked about college and his birthday and how stressful organic chemistry was until he was too drunk to function and I brought him back to his dorm.
And at 2:19 a.m., that time of night when everything seems scary, and the hallways look especially creepy, at that time of night, I met you.
And I have told you about everyone I met today and how dolphins recognize themselves in mirrors and how if you drive fast enough it feels like flying. And I showed you how to use the quadratic formula and how to sneak into a bar even though your twenty-first birthday is still three months away and how a green car is faster then a yellow one.
And you smiled, even though when I first met you, you were crying. And you remembered your experiences, and how you thought that blue cars were faster than red ones and how you learned that a hummingbird can fly backwards. And you showed me how to do a handstand, because that’s something your big sister once showed you, and you wanted me to learn too.
And you told me you’re glad you met me, and I smiled too, because no one has ever said that before.
And before I leave you at your own little paradise, let me say that I, Death, am honored to have met you.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.